The use of PARACETAMOL in dementia care: any confirmation of anecdotal evidence?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Fred Flintstone, Jun 5, 2015.

  1. Fred Flintstone

    Fred Flintstone Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    S. E. England
    . ​
    I've read in more than one place, one of which was in Max Pemberton's column in the Daily Telegraph, that in some cases paracetamol can make quite a dramatic difference in old people's symptoms of confusion.

    There have been a few times when my father (92, early-ish vascular dementia) has perked up quite remarkably when he's had two 500mg tablets. On the most remarkable occasion, there was also a bit of caffeine added (it was late on a Sunday afternoon, and only the garage was open, and branded Panadol Plus was all I could buy).

    By the time the out-of-hours doctor arrived the confusion and immobility I'd described had almost gone. He was found to have had a UTI. At that time he was only significantly confused when he had a chest or water infection.

    Do other posters here have any experience of this?

  2. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    Mum was prescribed paracetamol to help with arthritis pain but didn't ever take the max 8 tablets per day and sometimes forgot completely. Honestly I don't think it was very effective as a painkiller but she wouldn't touch anything else.

    I didn't see any effect on her levels of confusion at all when she took more tablets but it may work better for some.
  3. tre

    tre Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
    My husband's consultant recommended putting him on a low dose of paracetamol as she said she prescribes this for patients in full time care at the later stages ( my husband is now severely affected) as patients at this stage are unable to communicate whether they are in pain. He has four spoons full of the paediatric formulation 250mg per 5ml spoon morning ang evening. We have been on this regime for over a year now and I am sure it is beneficial to him. He does have a back problem and osteoarthritis in addition to the dementia but before this treatment he would cry out occasionally, presumably with pain. When you asked him following this to indicate where the pain was, he did answer in the affirmative if you asked if he was in pain, and then would point away from his body.
    I have not noticed any ill effects.
  4. Aitchbee

    Aitchbee Registered User

    Nov 3, 2013
    Like you we read Max Pemberton's article in the Telegraph. We give Mum (advanced Lewy Body dementia) 10mg of liquid paracetamol if she becomes agitated or distressed and I think it does have a calming effect on her
  5. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    I noticed my mums cobfusion was so much less when she was in the dementia ward compared to main hospital or home. I thought it was the dact they stopped giving her gabapentin but it could be paracetamol. When she moved to the care home the gp put her back on gabapentin and even the care home noticed the change in her. She is only on paracetamol now as they spoke to gp after i mentioned it. She is very happh and settled now and less confused. Its worth a try as its cheap and safe. She only gets 4 to 6 per day.
  6. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    Mum on regular low dose of paracetamol

    When she was in hospital they stopped it.... In my opinion not a good idea.... but apparently, they didn't want to mix morphine with other painkillers

    As soon as she returned to care home they reinstated paracetamol, within the week back they cut down morphine, and now, she's back to good old mum as she was before going into hospital

    Care home feel that some of mums agitation/aggression was due to pain which she can't express, so their philosophy is to give continuous low dose pain relief and it seems to work really well for mum

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  7. CeliaW

    CeliaW Registered User

    Jan 29, 2009
    Hello Fred - this is a copy of a post I did a few weeks ago that you may find helpful.
    "... - it is quite common to prescribe routine paracetamol for patients with cognitive impairment / dementia. I know Mum had it and it helped reduce some of her unexplained bouts of agitation. I would mention it to the doc and ask if you can continue it - taken using sensible practice and levels it should not be harmful. Any risk of irritation to the stomach can be reduced by making sure it is not taken on an empty stomach but do check with the GP and also be aware that other medicines (such as for coughs and colds) can contain paracetamol so you can unwittingly increase the dose if you take both.

    This is one of the latest write ups I can find that is fairly readable and by a specialist in the field - hope its helpful. I know it is written for hospital care but obviously applies to other care situations -

    Hope it continues to be effective - it helps to make a friend of your local pharmacist as they will always be a good and quicker route to find out about such things rather than waiting for a GP or hospital appointment."
  8. Fred Flintstone

    Fred Flintstone Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    S. E. England
    #8 Fred Flintstone, Jun 5, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
    Very good link, thank you!

    I had thought that it was not only as a painkiller paracetamol was thought to be effective, however, there was thought to be a possible psychotropic effect also.

    Some pharmacists are too busy to be bothered, particularly those employed by large chains. A good friendly one is a real prize, however.

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